Tag Archive for: The Early Years

Impact of Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse and Goat Yoga

By AB Plum

Have you ever noticed how the perfect plans you make so often fall apart? Go straight to hell in a handbasket? Turn quiet to chaos?

The end of June seemed perfect for two home projects: 
  • installing new carpet in the MBR 
  • painting all the woodwork throughout the house. 

Tricky to get the timing of each job right—painting first, carpet second. Packing and repurposing required a lot of planning and our sweat. But we pulled off both jobs pretty much as planned.

Thought we were home free. Paid contractors. Moved on. 
  • Started making sure we grasped all the details about our trip to Oregon to view the total solar eclipse with our son and DIL. 
  • Confirmed our reservation in Bend—handled totally by our wonderful DIL. 
  • Double checked our airline reservations. 
  • Reconfirmed time of pickup at PDX..

Feeling good. Good enough to think about getting our house back in order after the painting and carpet installation.

Then, wham! The washing machine turned on me. Died three days before July 4.The tea towels and table cloths and napkins started breeding in the laundry room. Opening the door put us at peril. 

My husband’s back also went out the same daymeaning boxes of stacked books sat here, there and everywhere but on the shelves. 

Yes, every appliance store had the stackable units we wanted in stock—somewhere in Outer Mongolia, requiring ten days shipping to Northern Cal. Call after call, online search after online search, confirmed this fact.

In the meantime, the laundry was rumbling against the door trying to erupt from the laundry room and take over our house like lava. 

Our tempers … simmered. We gave in to a rant or two. We lived in a huge metro-area. Yes, July 4th loomed two days away. But …

What was happening? Was it the planets converging for the upcoming eclipse? How the heck does goat yoga fit in here?

Somewhere in between Internet searches for washer/dryer combos that fit in our space and didn’t require additional plumbing and/or electrical updates, a link to a YouTube video distracted my scattered attention. Watching it once, then twice more in the same setting, I laughed enough I finally corralled my “downer.”

Goats in a yoga class did the trick.

Just like in the movies, the next place I called did, in fact, honestly, truthfully, have the washer and dryer we wanted in their local warehouse. Yes, they would, absolutely on the head of the salesman’s first-born son, deliver said purchase to our home on July 4!

Uh-huh. Riiight. Yeah. I swallowed the impulse to demand the salesman’s home address.

July 4. Zoom in on me doing the happy dance when two young men arrived at 8:00 AM, installed the new appliances, gave us a demo, loaded the dead washer and companion dryer on their truck, and left by 9:15.

Whistling, I immediately loaded the washer. While it purred away, I turned on my computer, fired up the goat yoga video, and laughed through three re-runs. 

The solar eclipse was still on track (as if it wouldn’t be), and my husband’s back was better. What more could  I wish for—except my books magically back on the shelves? I’d then have time for goat yoga!

When AB’s not shelving books or washing clothes or watching goat yoga videos, she writes dark, gritty psychological thrillers. Unless the roof falls in, she plans to release in mid-August  The Lost Days, Book 2 in The MisFit Series.

Obamacare, Trumpcare, Personal Care

By AB Plum

Ignorance is bliss.
Too many facts confuse us.
Time changes everything.
Sometimes, we know more than is good for us.
Life is a mystery; we can’t know everything.
Waiting and patience are virtues.

Lately, these platitudes and clichés have claimed too much prime real estate in my brain. And, I know why. (The Obamacare/Trumpcare debate plus some reflections about personal health care have made an impact).

My husband and I spent a lot of time over the past six months poring over different medical opinions before we and his docs detected a pattern:  Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. (NPH). 

We then had to weigh treatment options (Do nothing.  Start with a spinal tap. Go for brain surgery. Wait and see; come back in three months). Next, what were the risks of the brain surgery? What was the best-case outcome? When would we see improvement? How painful was the procedure? What kind of recovery might we expect?

So we made the go-with-surgery decision—with a high degree of optimism—in December. The procedure, scheduled for February 6, was postponed. Time—and a very nasty and persistent sinus infection changed those best-laid plans. Patience became stretched. Waiting involved weekly lab tests and several x-rays to satisfy two doctors that the infection had responded to treatment. March 7, my husband went into OR asking “enough questions so I can do this myself the next time.”

Recovery brought its own challenges, and sometimes we longed for ignorance. But now, we are grateful for his ability to walk normally again. The hard part, as the cliché goes, is behind us. 

Now, we are trying to share the best of our experience with a long-time friend. Her husband has just been diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). Wow! Is that a mouthful.

Like us with NPH, she’d never heard of ITP. The mountain of info is overwhelming. The possibility that the cause may not be found for his extremely low red platelet count is scary. The need to wait and see, to sit by a hospital bed patiently waiting for one more test result is exhausting. Googling every vaguely related keyword is tempting, but too often results in being confused by too many contradictions and not enough hard evidence. Going home without a definitive cause for the drop in red blood cells carries both relief and anxiety.

My husband and I had to wait almost a week to say with certainty that his surgery achieved our goal of normal walking. Our friends may have to wait much longer to see if this 5-day stay in the hospital is a one-time occurrence or the first of many stays.

In their case, the cliché, time will tell, keeps popping up. Right now, I’m offering a different heartfelt cliché: Be grateful for every moment and get back to your normal life as quickly—and safely—as possible.

AB Plum lives and writes in Silicon Valley, where amazing innovations in medical practice and technology meet.


By AB Plum
“If you travel in space for three years and come back, four hundred years will have passed on Earth,” says Anna in Jodi Picoult’s wonderful novel, My Sister’s Keeper.

This quote reflects some of my feelings over the past five weeks as my husband recuperates from brain surgery. 

Specifically, he had a ventriculoperitoneal shunt implanted to relieve pressure in his brain caused by fluid build-up.

As surgeries go, the procedure took a little over sixty-minutes. Total prep time for the entry into the OR required 3 hours. Nurses monitored him every 15 minutes for another three hours following the procedure. The night quickly (slowly) got chewed up with checks of his vitals, inquiries for his well-being, and offers of pain meds. Pain, came the repeated warning, could make each second feel excruciating.

Time during that overnight-hospital stay collapsed, expanded, collapsed in a blur. The morning hours disappeared in consultations with a physical therapist, a social worker, and the surgeon’s assistant. A successful walk around the hospital wing provided proof he could go home. We arrived at our front step thirty hours after we left—though we both admitted to feeling as if we’d traveled in space for at least a year.

Pain management ate up the first couple of days. Sleep gobbled up much of the rest of “normal” awake-time. Night hours for sleeping fogged over as I helped him out of bed about every ninety minutes. A walker helped navigate the steps from bed to bathroom. Early-March nights felt as if we’d taken a detour to Juno.
Unlike with a baby, no need to feed or soothe back to sleep. Our consciousness crashed—until the next ninety-minute interval.

We returned to the surgeon at the end of the first week for a tweak to the shunt. This helped regulate gait and reduce the persistent headaches. Time became more defined, taking on a rhythm similar to the before-surgery pattern of our lives.

Today, exactly five weeks since I sat in the waiting room, my husband and I feel as if four hundred years have passed. Walking without a cane is no longer a challenge. Sleeping through the night is a given. All pain has disappeared. Dèjà vu—back on Planet Earth.

Looking forward—we have the insight to recognize the five weeks spent in ‘coming back’ pale compared to the several decades of quality life we hope lie ahead. I won’t claim we’ll never take time for granted again, but I will say we have a new appreciation for the minutes, hours, and weeks of each day. 

On Hold . . . for Unspecified Time

I’ve uploaded The Lost Days to Amazon, but need a bit more time to revisit my launch plan. First things, first. In the meantime, I’m hoping to carve out time to finish Book 3, The In-Between Years in the next month.

Foresight and Hindsight

Aunt Edie was a hypochondriac.

The wife of my father’s older brother, Aunt Edie earned her reputation in my large, extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, first cousins, in-laws and outlaws. No matter the clan-gathering occasion, no one asked her how she was. Because . . .

Because she could bore you to death with her aches and pains in two minutes flat. 

Like a spider, she never let her victim escape in less than half an hour’s recitation about her medications, her insomnia, her indigestion, her aching feet, her hair loss, an undiagnosed medical condition so rare it belonged in medical books.  

A hang nail, so the gossip went, would send her to the hospital in a flash.

In my nuclear family, my parents and five siblings rarely admitted to feeling unwell. Going to the doctor cost money we didn’t have, so we went for required vaccinations and for visits to treat the scary convulsions my youngest brother began having in early infancy—and outgrew by the time he was toddling. (This condition was not one mentioned outside the immediate family. We were not Aunt Edie. We kept stiff upper lips).

When my two children were diagnosed as adolescents with Type I Diabetes, I  fought the instinct to keep the disease a secret. But because I didn’t want my kids to feel ashamed or guilty—or succumb to the temptation to deny their diagnosis—I tried to speak openly with them, friends, and family about their treatment.

Sometimes my stiff upper lip wobbled, but I figured crying was allowed.

My husband grew up in a family not too dissimilar from mine regarding illness and admitting illnesses. So, for the first thirty years of our marriage, he rarely acknowledged even a sniffle. When he was diagnosed with TIAs, we consulted a good neurologist, followed his common sense and adjusted, taking in stride fifteen years later the need for three cardiac stents.

Now, we’re facing the likelihood of a cranial shunt to rebalance the fluid surrounding my husband’s brain. At first, like Aunt Edie, my husband told everyone he met—or so it seemed—about NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus). Friends and family listened, asked intelligent questions, and offered support. I feel very grateful that we live in an age when opening up about health concerns has become more “normal.”

hindsight, I wish I’d had the foresight to benefit from current insights:


  • Not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy good health throughout life.
  • Listen to others whose misfortunate is to be sick for short or long periods.
  • Aunt Edie, we ‘done’ you wrong!

How—about you? Are you a parent who doesn’t want to worry the kids? Do your adult kids let you know after the fact about a serious illness affecting them or their spouse and kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

A Fix for Your Post-Halloween Fog

By AB Plum

Late, late morning after Halloween, the doorbell rings.

You’re still recovering from handing out candy to eleven-ninety kids (including teenagers who should’ve been too embarrassed to show up with their hands out). You shamble to the door. Despite repeated vows last night, you sneaked a chocolate treat here and there. Fog encircles your brain. Bracing yourself, you crack the door open and peer out.

No one yells, “Trick or Treat!”

Not a single Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump plasticized mask in sight. No Star Wars Jedis with drawn light sabers that cost $100 and up. No Cinderellas in gowns rivalling Disney’s creations with tiaras sparkling more brightly than many diamond engagement rings.

“Take this.” Your neighbor, dressed for jogging in the light mist, shoves a paper bag at you and pivots away, calling over her shoulder, “I bought way too much Halloween candy. Save me from myself.”

She speeds away before you can protest.

You close the door and open the bag. It’s brimming with the good stuff: M&Ms, Kit Kats, Snickers and Reese’s miniatures. Small means you can eat more, right? 

The mist pings off the window. Fortunately, you aren’t working today. Jogging’s a drag. What a great day to crawl back into bed. You’re an adult. You don’t need permission.

You succumb to temptation, candy sack on your chest, and open your ereader to the psychological thriller you downloaded last night as your own treat.

But you didn’t count on the doorbell interrupting—
from dusk right up until your bedtime.

Thunder rumbles. You shiver, pop a Snickers bar, and start reading the blurb . . .

An eleven-year-old prodigy morphs into a monster far scarier than any vampire or zombie or other paranormal misfit. Bullied by his older brother, rejected by his icy mother, and ignored by his absent father, Michael Romanov retaliates with the canniness of a budding psychopath.

You nod and fish around in the paper bag and read the first page . . . lost for the day.

In case you missed downloading your own Halloween treat? The Early Years is free now through November 3 at
Coming next Tuesday: A sneak peek from my late-November release of Book 2, The Lost Years, in The MisFit Series.

AB claims scary comic books ruined her for reading Dick and Jane. (She started reading at age four). Lots of other authors have left their imprint as well. She lives in Silicon Valley, where in 2016, she read at least one novel by Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Rachel Abbott, Kimberley McCreight, Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, Chelsea Cain, MJ Rose, Scott Nicholson, AB Plum, Jenny Shortridge, Katherine Howe, Jodi Picoult, Garth Stein, Emma Donoghue, C.B. Kline, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Paula Hawkins, and Dot Hutchison, M.L. Stedman among other great reads.

Delusional Logic Behind New Psychological Thriller

Remember when you were little and had your first tough argument with your BFF?

No matter what insults or barbs you hurled at each other, none hurt like being told she no longer liked you. One of you undoubtedly twisted the knife deeper by adding, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore. I don’t like you.”

Ouch! As children, we lived to be liked. Being liked—by teachers, adults, acquaintances, other kids, and even strangers mattered. If we were lucky, we could take parental and family love for granted. Being liked—not at all.

Recently, during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, I heard the political pundits throw around the concept of the candidates’ likability quotient. From time to time, I heard both 2016 presidential candidates were the ‘least-likeable . . .  ever.’

Is there a road back from the label unlikeable?

Writing my psychological suspense series, The MisFit, I extended the above question: Can stories entertain and grab readers’ attention with a major unlikeable character?

I certainly hope the answer is yes. Because I’ve invested two years and more than a thousand words developing such a character. Michael Romanov is Einstein-smart, Olympic-star confident, fearless, driven, and a psychopath from birth if he listens to his mother. Conflicts with his parents and older brother convince him, by the time he’s eleven, that he’s unlovable. Unlikeable, too, since he has no school friends among the students and faculty. He finds a way to claim justice . . . which is where the story begins.

Arguments hurt our feelings. Leave us feeling vulnerable. Often goad us to over-react. This is certainly the case with Michael. As I wrote his opening scene, flashes of that quarrel with my BFF flickered at the edge of my mind. 

Wow! Writing opened a door to reframing that long-ago memory into a novel of psychological suspense.

What about you? How’d you deal with the hurt from that first BFF-argument? Shoot me a note:  ab@abplum.com. I’ll respond. Who knows, maybe there’s another story lurking in your reply. 

AB Plum writes dark, chilling psychological suspense just off the fast lane in Silicon Valley–where the sun shines nearly every day. Coming soon, The Early Years, the first MisFit Series installment.